Each week, Plated offers a menu of five entrees. Members pick their poison, selecting at least two plates of each dish by noon Monday. Everything need to prepare the meal, except for oil, salt and pepper, are shipped to your address overnight in these portable coolers. Meats are separated from everything else (duh) and all the ingredients are measured, labeled and grouped together. It takes the guess work out of shopping and preparing the meals.
The meals come with step-by-step photo instructions and support is on the Web in the form of videos and tutorials. Each meal is designed to take about 30 minutes to prepare.
I started with the eggplant tabbouleh with grilled chicken. I realized I should have read the directions all the way through before I started. This was the first time I worked with eggplant and I probably should have cooked it more, but oh well. Also, this meal was scarce of veggies, so I added a few for my leftovers. I was impressed with the quality of all the ingredients and loved that everything was labeled and measured. This was supposed to be two portions, but it was more like three, so I had leftovers for lunch.
The next meal was catfish kabobs with cabbage slaw. This was the first time I ever cooked fresh fish - I usually cook frozen fillets. However, it's not that intimidating when you have instructions with pictures. I ended up using my own skewers for the kabobs and cooking this on the real grill instead of a grill pan. I must have cut the bread too generously because I didn't have enough to stack the skewers as indicated. No worries, the fish was still awesome. Again, I paired the leftovers with more veggies.
Overall, I think this would be a great service for people who like to cook but don't like shopping. I'm sure I could have purchased the ingredients cheaper, but they wouldn't have come pre-packaged. I thought it was a nice way to try new flavors, too. The tabbouleh, for example, called for tahini and harissa, ingredients I don't have on hand and might not want to commit to buying an entire container of. I also split up the meals into three portions because they were each about 700 calories a pop, which is a bit much for me. Plated also made making fresh fish less scary.
If you want to give Plated a try, today could be your lucky day. You could win four plates (valued at $60) along with a one-month membership. This contest will last one week and I'll announce the winner here next Thursday. Check out the Rafflecopter to see how to enter.
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